Normally the adoption of previous case “Findings of Facts” is a quick routine process that comes at the end of Liquor Control Adjudication Board hearings. Quite simply, the board approves their recent decisions, then adjourns the hearing and heads home.
The Nov. 3, 2005 hearing was different. There was only one Finding of Fact on the agenda—the case against Hawai’i Liquor Superstore, decided during the board’s Sept. 1, 2005 hearing. That was the case in which no one from the county prosecutor’s office showed and LC Director Franklyn Silva acted as prosecutor.
Not merely content to object to adopting the Finding, Board Member Lance Collins handed out a three-page memo to the rest of the board when the matter came up. More than simply reiterating his objections when the case first up, the memo was a detailed argument based on precedent arguing that the board had no business letting Silva prosecute Hawai’i Liquor Superstore.
“In our situation, the director simply does not have the authority to prosecute administrative violations before the Liquor Adjudication Board,” Collins wrote. Then he explained in lawyerly but frank terms that this was more than a mere technicality. He said a real injustice—“violating the licensee’s right to due process,” in his words—had in fact occurred.
“If a licensee or its agent does not appear before us we will, no doubt, proceed with the case permitting the prosecutor to present its case against the licensee,” he wrote. “Had the licensees been able to present its case without the prosecutor presenting its case, we would be hard pressed to find against the licensee.”
The memo was basically just a reasoned legal argument—but it was also one the board should have discussed. Board Member Tami Nascimento asked Corporation Counsel Traci Fujita Villarosa what she thought of it.
But when Villarosa quickly dismissed the memo and insisted the board had done nothing wrong at their Sept. 1 hearing, the other members relaxed. Then they approved the Finding over Collins’ lonely objection, which has lately become another routine part of Board of Adjudication hearings.